It was about a week before my 2016 birthday when I got an e-mail from a certain Ms. Jacqueline Chio-Lauri with the subject line: “2nd Try: An Invite to a Filipino Food Anthology”:
That second e-mail – apparently I missed the first – listed Filipin@ contributors-to-be who represented a whole slew of countries. It’s been more than two years since that e-mail which at the time, was met with skepticism. As if anyone would actually think the writings in my ill-designed, rarely updated food blog could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Cris Comerford’s, the White House Executive Chef who was named as one of the contributors among other critically-acclaimed heavy hitters. Ha!
Faint memories of a similar situation arose, however, in which an interview offer at the company I work for today sat in my Spam Folder and a “2nd Try” e-mail was all that stood between me and near Death-by-Accounting-Job. I shuddered at the thought, submitted my recipe, and didn’t think much of it for a while since there was probably a chance mine wouldn’t make the cut. But it did.
And so did 29 others. It’s often too easy to think that occurrences like these are “destined”, their seeming simplicity (how hard is it to ask 30+ people to e-mail you their recipes and essays?) hiding an infinite amount of “close-but-not-quite-there” moments; 2nd try e-mails forever lost to Google. But they weren’t.
As I look forward to finally having this love story of a book in my mom’s hands (who I wrote my piece for) and meeting many of the folks I adore in person, I’m awed by the many times this book may NOT have happened: Had we not replied to Ms. Lauri. Had she not championed us past rejections and skepticism. Had the photos not come out well. Had the funds run out. Had we lost interest midway. Had it languished in Amazon obscurity.
The possibility of non-existence stretch even further back: Had a young Cristina Quackenbush not moved to America, had Laura Bush appointed a different Executive Chef, had Alexa Alfaro become an Engineer, had the others stuck to the profession someone else chose for them. Countless people’s stories that may not have sat side-by-side – connected over years, miles, and experiences – had we swung just a few degrees to the side. There are 30 of us writing for this book and it may take a lifetime for me to slowly make my way to everyone else’s kitchen.
A new question surfaces in my mind: “Who else is out there? Who’s path is just a few degrees shy of meeting ours?”